This tea is a blend of six massive trees harvested in the North of little Jinggu area. The mountain is called Ba Da Ye, not far from the slightly more town of Da Sun Shan. It was sourced by Luo Kai Yin and processed in his factory.
Even though large trees does not always mean good tea, there is a typical characteristic that makes big tea trees enjoyable. The body feel in this tea is amazing. As the session goes, you can feel the tea in your stomach and start sweating due to a comfortable warming of the body. This is something not everyone has the chance to experience, but people sensitive to 'Cha Qi' are really into this kind of teas.
The taste is subdued. No fancy fragrance, aggressive bitterness or astringency. Decent thickness, but interestingly, not so much sweetness. The tea soup feels somewhat empty in the mouth, in a good way. It's not like drinking water, nor like sipping oil, but somewhere in between. You'll start feeling the tea after you swallow it.
It's possible puerh tea beginners will miss the core quality of this tea. This is the kind of tea experienced drinkers are looking for, this is very Eastern Yiwu-like. Hard to describe, but you always come back to it.
Jinggu is often overlooked by the tea enthusiasts, and yet, you might have had great teas from there without knowing it. Indeed, a lof of Yiwu cakes contain Jinggu material, because they have comparable tasting profiles in some way.
Located between Lincang and the massive Wuliang Mountain range, Jinggu county is made of hills as far as the eye can see. You won’t find imposing peaks there, nor any specific landmark. It’s a region that doesn’t attract tourists and it might partly explain why Jinggu tea has always grown in the shade of other terroirs. In the county, the town named ‘little Jinggu’, located north of the county capital, has the most to offer to the avid tea enthusiast.
You’ll find three types of tea gardens there.
Jinggu county is famous for its Da Bai Cha varietal, which produces large furry buds. It sells well in the mass market thanks to its good look, but it’s a whole different industry, and the avid tea enthusiast would be disappointed by its weak taste.
Besides the Da Bai Cha, the farmers of Jinggu also grow the ‘old varietal’, a more orthodox large-leaf, seed-propagated tea tree, which is picked and maintained with the Teng Tiao technique. In most of the tea gardens, the farmers want to promote lateral growth. It allows for more shoots growing in a shorter package, you have your picking table made of short branches and a lot of shoots. In Jinggu, the farmers have taken the opposite approach, they want few long branches. The tea grows on the sides of the branch without growing more woody parts. To achieve this, they pick the axillary buds that would produce new branches on the side of the main stem. This results in a specific look of the tea trees that you’ll only find in Jinggu and in some parts of Lincang.
The last type of tea garden is the most interesting one. If you visit Jinggu, you won’t notice it. It is hidden in the forests on the higher slopes. In a similar fashion as Eastern Yiwu or Northern Laos, these gardens are only accessible through small roads and can take a couple of hours to reach. This forest tea is of the same varietal as the commonly found Teng Tiao, but the ecosystem of the forest and the shade give the brew a special character. The tea has a soft and yet powerful tasting profile, with plenty of sweetness and a calming body feel. It’s a great tea to relax and meditate. This is what we like to source.
Just like Yiwu, Jinggu has a long history of tea making, and the producers never lost the skill of puerh tea making through recent history. We work with two of them.
Luo Kai Yin has set up a small factory in his native village called Xin Cun. He sources fresh leaves from forested tea gardens and processes them himself. Tea trade is quite fluid in Jinggu, the local producers can go to places far from their home base to get good leaves. To purchase material that suits his high standard, Luo Kai Yin likes to go to Wen Shan Ding in the East, and far in the North, to Ba Da Ye.
We also work with Mr Dong, who lives in a village, South-West of Little Jinggu. He grows forested tea gardens on Tang Fang Liang Zi Mountain.